The Flames deadline strategy

At the start of the new year we really couldn’t be sure if the Flames would be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. We head into the All-Star Break a month later with much more clarity: Calgary sits eight points out of playoff spot but only two points out of last place in the league.

It’s not over. But it’s over. Absent a miracle, the Flames are going to miss the dance this year.

So sellers it is. The good news is the club has a few UFA’s they can put up for auction (and maybe a few RFAs too). The bad news is we can’t really be sure what the possible return will be on any of these guys. Or if there will be a return at all. 

In the spirit of this recent JW article at OilersNation, I took a look at who the Flames have available and whether or not the club should look to put them up on the trade block this year. 

 Trade Deadline Possibilities

Jiri Hudler ($4M, UFA ): Sell. A year ago Hulder would have fetched a King’s ransom for the club. Now  we can’t even be certain there’ll be much interest. After leading the Flames in scoring a year ago, the 30-year-old RW is fifth on the club in points this year and has struggled with both injuries and inconsistency. He’s on pace for his lowest (non-lockout season) point total in five years and is suffering through the lowest SH% of his career.

On the plus side, Hudler has been a consistent 50+ point forward and he’s coming off a career best season. The Flames also have about a month to pump his stock back up, so it would help if Hudler turned things around in February. If he has a return to form, he’ll be Calgary’s most sought after deadline rental.

Kris Russell ($2.6M, UFA): Sell. The coach likes him, the media likes him and the team is reportedly trying to re-sign him. That said, the Flames probably can’t afford what Kris Russell will cost in free agency and he’s probably a bad bet to provide value at a higher dollar amount anyways. 

Teams are usually eager to improve their defensive depth heading into the playoffs as well, so there’s bound to be real interest in the player. 

Take the draft pick and run. 

David Jones ($4M, UFA): Sell. Jones is a perfectly middling NHL winger. At his best, he can drive the net and score some goals. At his worst, he’s completely invisible. The Flames might be able to get something for the 30-year-old, but there’s also a good chance there won’t be much interest. He has just 14 points in 48 games after all. 

Joe Colborne ($1.275M, RFA): Sell. Colborne is a bit of a divisive player. Some fans like his combination of size and hands and feel he might become a useful contributor to a winning team. His results continue to be ambiguous at best. He gets points at a decent rate, but the team consistently gets outshot and outchanced with Colborne on the ice and at nearly 26 years old it’s unlikely he’s going to get much better.

There might not be a lot of demand for Colborne, but if anyone offers more than a third rounder the Flames should consider it.

Markus Granlund ($767.5k, RFA): Sell. The Flames have been patient with Markus Granlund, moving him between the parent and AHL squad the last three years in the hopes he would develop into a solid two-way centre. 

Although Granlund the younger has proven himself at the AHL level, he continues to flounder in the NHL, to the degree that’s it becoming increasingly unlikely he’ll prove to be anything more than a replacement level forward. 

Granlund probably won’t garner much interest outside of some sort of package deal, but if his name comes up the Flames should consider moving him. 

Derek Grant ($700k, RFA): Hold. The Heat’s best forward this year might garner some interest if only because he’s had a career season. The big centre is by far the best scorer on the Flames AHL squad this year and is also capable of winning face-offs. This combination of skills might put him on the trade radar as a useful depth option. 

For those reasons the Flames should consider holding on to Grant unless they are given an absurdly good offer. Though he was a freely available minor league signing in the summer, Grant has proven to be an excellent AHLer and would be worth another look at the NHL level.

Josh Jooris ($975k, RFA): Hold. The Flames’ best bottom-six possession forward, Jooris has found himself in the Hartley’s doghouse this year for no discernible reason. A fast, tenacious forechecker and capable penalty killer, Jooris has good enough hands to score on occasion, though he’s probably never going to be a top-six forward. Nevertheless, Jooris is the Flames’ Paul Byron replacement and a cheap, young, depth signing worth keeping in the fold. 

Karri Ramo (3.8M, UFA): Sell. Karri Ramo is a favourite of Bob Hartley, but his career stats suggest he is little more than an average 1B option in net (.906 SV% in 156 NHL games). The goalie market is pretty fickle so if a team comes along and offers the Flames something for Ramo, they should take it.


tl;dr version is the Flames are open for business at the deadline. At the very least, Brad Treliving should be taking calls on every single pending UFA on Calgary’s roster.

    • nikkomsgb

      I really don’t get the hating on Jankowski thing. He doesn’t appear to have what it takes to be a top line center, but all isn’t lost.

      By all accounts he skates very well, is big with good hands, wins faceoffs and is defensively responsible. He is worth a contract and fingers crossed he turns into another Backlund…. solid two was center with limited offense.

      We’ll need that in the years to come if all goes as planned/hoped.

      • Christian Roatis

        I feel like now that nearly everyone that had to do with that pick is gone, Janko is the only person left to blame. The one guy who had literally 0 fault in the whole thing.


        • PrairieStew

          Feaster’s declaration of best player in the draft is the anchor around the kids neck. If he’s picked 15 picks later, then he is the darling of Flame prospects.

          He has made steady progress in his 4 years at Providence and was both young for his draft year and clearly a late physical maturer. Though he is one month older than Monahan – I view him as 2 years younger than Monahan in physical maturation. He’s producing this year roughly half of what Gaudreau did in his final year of College. Projecting that – can he be a 20 goal 20 assist 3rd line centre in the NHL – still possible.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Solicit offers on every single player.

    Consider most of them.

    Accept several of them.

    Retain salary on some of them.

    Don’t be afraid to make hockey trades.

  • Lordmork

    Let’s imagine the Flames manage to sell 2-3 players off that list. Who comes up to replace them? I’d love to see some guys from Stockton up this year. Feels like a few have been earning a chance to come up, but haven’t been given it (story of the season).

    • UtahFlamesFan

      That assumes that the Flames don’t take much salary or any players on one-way deals in return.

      There’s that period toward the end of the season where teams can expand their rosters, right? Since Stockton is probably going to miss the playoffs too, I’d expect to see guys like Agostino or Grant get a longer run out then.

  • FeyWest

    Agreed full bore, it’s time we start to let the bridge players move on and let some of the younger unknowns spread their wings and challenge for spots. It has to happen at some point and I think this is the best time to do this.

  • Bikeit

    Agree with you on most fronts Kent. The only issue is with russell. He does eat minutes and is not my first choice but as soon as you deal a defenseman you are immediately looking for one. Wideman was signed because feaster desperately needed to fill a spot with a capable dman. The farm D are not ready except for kulak maybe in a year or 2. So it might be best to just keep russell, salary pending. When Granlund got walked around for the goal the other night I thought he is likely not every day NHL material. Thanks for the article.

    • cberg

      Think there are at least 3 D ready to come up right now that could play and not be a serious drop-off from what’s here. Kulak, Nakladal and Wotherspoon, and expect next year there will be more.

      Come on guys, what are we trying to replace?

    • The Flames have a couple of very good potentials in the system now.

      You have Andersson and Kylington, Hickey coming up.
      But ready to go you have Kulak, Nakladal, and Morrison – all fit into the bottom rotation are much cheaper than Wideman, Russell, Engelland and Smid.

  • PrairieStew

    Agree on everything there except don’t share the optimism on Grant. He’s essentially the same age as Joe Colborne and has a grand total of 34 NHL games in 6 years as a pro. His production in the AHL this year is more than double his career average but is only in 27 games, an aberration methinks.

    The sell signs on Granlund and Colborne I agree with – especially if they can be packaged with other assets to improve the quality of prospects in the system. I’ve said before there are a number of assets within the Flames system that are duplicated and picking one to keep and the other to trade in order to create a package of two or three of them together to get higher picks or better prospects should be considered. Pick one to keep and one to trade from each group

    Top 6 wingers Klimchuck/Poirier

    Young pro d Kulak/Culkin

    Junior age d Andersson/Kylington

    College/Euro D Hickey/Matsson

    Monster D Kanzig/Bruce

    Monster F Smith/Carroll

    Stajan’s replacement Arnold/Jankowski

    Goalie Gilles/MacDonald

    To me that’s alot of assets that can be used, but it needs to be done before they start to wither on the vine (see Wotherspoon, Sieloff)

  • UtahFlamesFan

    There are maybe 6 untouchables at this time – 3 defensemen (Giordano, Brodie, Hamilton) 3 forwards (Bennett, Gaudreau, Monahan). Everyone else is available for trade, including absolutely any of our prospects. There could even be an argument that Giordano and Monahan could be included (but not by me)

  • RKD

    We should be sellers for sure, hopefully the all-star break gives Hudler some rest and then he heats up and his value rises but he may need to be packaged with someone like Granlund. I know why the org would want to re-sign Russell, but he should be moved he could bring us back an asset. The Flames need to get Kulak, Nakladal, Wotherspoon etc. up here in a more regular way. They need to find another top line forward a RW please, a d-man to compliment Hamilton and a starting goaltender. I would hang on to a guy like Derek Grant.

  • UtahFlamesFan

    I know it’s wishful thinking… But the Flames need to trade Wideman.

    Retain some salary if they have to, but I don’t see how they can afford to keep him, and resign Gaudreau and Monahan.

  • everton fc

    @kent – Do you think Granlund might just need the ‘Detroit’ treatment? Leave him on the farm producing a p/pg until he’s 24, 25? Not saying he’ll become Nyqvist, but a Jarnkrok would be useful too.

  • PrairieStew

    If Granlund is traded players need to come back whether it is a package deal for a better player or not. The only draft pick option I would consider is a package to move up within the top 10 at the draft. We can get enough picks with our UFAs.

    Depending on where we finish and potentially lottery it could be expensive to move up to #2 to grab Puljujarvi and Granlund might be one of better trade assets. And Puljujarvi is something that must happen this summer even if it means we overpay. We need an elite player. We have enough mediocrity.

    For that reason we should not move Granlund at the deadline

    Other than that to mention I cant come up with much for a trade besides a player for a pick